Saturday, 5 June 2021

Marija Bistrica to Host Int'l Conference on Croatian Diaspora

ZAGREB, 5 June 2021 - Marija Bistrica will host on 10-11 June an international conference focusing on numerous topics of importance for Croatia's expat communities and the relationship towards them, the Croatian Heritage Foundation has announced.

The live conference is a continuation of the 4th Croatian Emigrant Congress, which was not completed in Zagreb last November due to the pandemic.

About 60 participants will analyse the challenges and prospects of Croatian emigrants in relation to the homeland, demographic challenges, and emigrants as promoters of Croatia.

The event will also be an opportunity to talk about the aid expats sent via their Catholic missions to the areas of Croatia struck by last year's earthquakes.

A cultural evening dedicated to the Croat community in Kosovo will be organised on 9 June, including a photo exhibition.

For more about the Croatian Diaspora, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 2 April 2021

Croatian Emigrants in Germany Double Since Croatian EU Accession

April the 2nd, 2021 - The number of Croatian emigrants in Germany has doubled since Croatia joined the European Union (EU) back in July 2013 and freedom of movement laws became applicable to the country.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, there were 426,845 Croatian emigrants in Germany last year, which means that the number of Croatian citizens in that country almost doubled after Croatia's accession to the EU because there were 224,971 of them registered there back in 2012, Vecernji list reports.

According to the National Statistics Office in Wiesbaden, Croatian emigrants in Germany are in 6th place when it comes to foreign immigrants after the citizens of Turkey, Poland, Syria, Romania and Italy. Last year, 26,335 Croatian citizens immigrated from Croatia to Germany.

In the pandemic dominated year, Germany had the lowest influx of foreigners, but the question is how comforting it is that fewer Croatian citizens emigrated last year, especially compared to the worst years of exodus in 2018, 2017, and 2016 when, according to the precise German statistics, more than 50,000 Croatian citizens arrived in Germany.

Political scientist and historian Tado Juric from the Croatian Catholic University predicts that due to the change in the way of working brought about by the pandemic, which will increasingly lead to more and more remote work, the emigration of Croats to Germany could stop within around five years, and some of those previous Croatian emigrants in Germany could also return.

"The West won't give up on importing labour for some time to come as a key measure in rebuilding its population. But even that will not last forever. Under the influence of the fourth industrial revolution, which gained unprecedented acceleration with the appearance of the coronavirus crisis, a completely new form of economy was created.

Teleworking will replace many jobs in such a way that after the socialisation of workers and students, which we're only just witnessing, many occupations will move into the field of teleworking. That means that a worker from Moldova, for example, will do from his apartment what a Croat is doing now in Stuttgart. My assessment is that in five years, due to this complete transformation of the way of working that teleworking brings, emigration from Croatia will stop, but there will also be a bigger return of former emigrants home,'' said Juric.

For more on Croatian demographic issues, follow our politics page.

Friday, 12 February 2021

Croatian Emigration Rate Second Highest in European Union

February the 12th, 2021 - The fact that certain parts of Croatia, particularly Eastern Croatia, have been gradually emptying for years as the economic situation grows worse and job opportunities become more scarce, isn't something new. That trend only got worse as Croatia entered the EU in July 2013, and the Croatian emigration rate is now the second worst in the entire EU.

As Novac/Kristina Turcin writes, in the period from 2015 to 2019, the population of Croatia, according to official Eurostat data, decreased by 4.26 inhabitants per 1,000 citizens only due to the concerning Croatian emigration rate, which is the second largest decline in population through migration in the European Union: only Lithuania, which is worse, lost 5.04 inhabitants for every 1000 inhabitants in the same period.

This worrisome data unequivocally indicates that the economic prosperity of one country within the EU has a key impact on the decisions of residents to leave one country or move to another. For this reason, the territory of the European Union is one of the most attractive for immigrants from all over the world, but within the Union itself, despite all efforts, the differences between nations and their people are still vast and people from poorer countries continue to migrate with very little barriers placed in front of them to richer ones.

Economic crisis

Such a trend was particularly present in post-socialist countries in the first years after joining the EU, particularly in the early 2000s. In the last observed five-year period, only five EU countries had a negative migration rate, ie the number of emigrants was higher than the number of immigrants. These are Bulgaria, Romania, Latvia, Croatia and Lithuania. All other member states had a higher number of immigrants than the number of emigrants, and at the top of the scale are of course the countries with the best economic indicators, such as Luxembourg, whose net migration rate was 17, which means that for every 1,000 citizens it had 17 more immigrants than it did emigrants.

That very same pattern, which was shown by the calculations of Dr. Ivan Cipin and Dr. Petra Medjimurec from the Department of Demography at the Faculty of Economics in Zagreb, is present within Croatia and in the Croatian emigration rate: the correlation between economic prosperity, measured through GDP per capita, and net migration rates for each county is indisputable, it was, as stated, also particularly strong in the first years after Croatia's initial accession to the EU in the summer of 2013.

''There's no doubt that the economic development of a particular area is one of the most important, if not the most important, factor of emigration,'' explained Dr. Cipin.

According to the analysis they made, in the years of the strongest economic crisis in Croatia, the stronger the Croatian emigration rate grew. As expected, this primarily involved those from poorer counties. For example, back in 2012, the most negative net migration rate was in Pozega-Slavonia County, which, in that year, lost 11 inhabitants per 1,000 inhabitants exclusively due to emigration, either abroad or to other Croatian counties. At the same time, it was one of the three counties with the lowest GDP per capita - the GDP of that county was, for comparison, more than three times lower than the GDP of the City of Zagreb. That year, however, the six (richest) counties had a positive net migration rate, ie the number of immigrants was higher than the number of emigrants.

However, the explosion of emigration started in 2013 - the year in which Croatia finally joined the European Union, and peaked in 2017 when, for example, the net migration rate for Vukovar-Srijem County, whose GDP per capita was also among the lowest, was 35, and only two counties, Istria and the City of Zagreb, had a positive rate. Virovitica-Podravina and Pozega-Slavonia counties, which a year earlier had the lowest GDP per capita, had net migration rates of -20 and -25, respectively.

Regional inequalities

''When the borders opened up to Croatia following July 2013's accession to the EU, the differences in economic development reached special levels in terms of migration statistics. Slavonia and the area around Sisak faced the worst situation. These parts of the country, ie the surplus of emigration, have been a big issue for Croatia for some time now, which, due to the departure of the younger and more active part of the population, leads to a further reduction of GDP per capita and inequalities therefore only increase. I'm afraid that without targeted EU intervention, it will no longer be possible to reverse the trend: we have counties where, partly due to emigration, the average age of the general population is already approaching 50, and they still have negative net migration, which is an unpromising indicator,'' explained Dr. Cipin.

Combating poverty and regional disparities is one of the main goals of the European Union, but the set goal of reducing the number of people at risk of poverty by 20 million by 2020 has unfortunately not been achieved. On the contrary, inequalities between and within member states have only further increased, and the concerning Croatian emigration rate is just one aspect which speaks volumes about it.

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Monday, 20 January 2020

Croatian Doctor Accepts Harvard Researcher Position: Alen Juginović Story

Croatian Doctor Alen Juginović, a recent graduate of the Faculty of Medicine in Split, will be leaving Croatia in two weeks to start a Postdoctoral Researcher position at the most prestigious college in the United States.

Dr. Juginović graduated from the Faculty of Medicine in Split in 2018. In September 2019, he was in Houston, Texas completing the second of two US observership programs. Then, he had an idea. Since he was in the US, why not visit the top universities with Neuroscience programs? So, he reached out to the Neuroscience departments at Stanford, MIT, Harvard and Columbia to arrange campus visits.

Harvard Campus Visit Leads to Instant Job Offer

He spent a day and a half in San Francisco and walked among the majestic red-roofed Romanesque sandstone buildings of Stanford University in perpetually sunny Palo Alto. Then he jetted across the country to Boston. After touring MIT, he set off for a visit of the Neuroscience Department at Harvard. With a name tag pinned to his lapel, he met Dr. Dragana Rogulja, an Assistant Professor of Neurobiology. Instead of leading him on a tour of the department, Rogulja, originally from Belgrade, brought Juginović to her office where she began inquiring about his academic background, interests and experience. Two hours later, she offered him a job in her lab.

“Everything was moving in slow motion,” the young medical school graduate recounts. He had a bus to catch to New York City for his planned visit to Columbia University, so he briefly toured his future employer’s lab. They parted ways, and Rogulja promised Juginović that she would give him all the time he needed to think about her job offer. “You’re not dreaming,” she assured him. Upon departing the Ivy League institution, however, the young Croatian doctor was in such a state of shock, that he sat motionless and in a daze while he rode the Boston Metro. Then he realized that he had missed his bus to New York.

Alen Juginović waited over a month to accept the Harvard professor's offer.

Three months later, Total Croatia News received a tip about Dr. Juginović’s job appointment at the most prestigious university in the United States, if not the world.

“I am reaching out to you with an exceptional success story about a young Croatian doctor who, as one of a very small number of Croatians in history, is leaving for the most prestigious university in the world – Harvard! I believe that this story, with all its successes, is very positive, incredibly unique and motivating for everyone in Croatia, especially the young. They will see how it is possible to reach the top of the world from tiny Croatia. I would ask you to consider this ultimate story of medical success for publication in your portal,” the source, overwhelmed with enthusiasm, wrote to us while insisting upon remaining anonymous.

Unique Story Follows Long-Lasting Croatian Tradition

Another story of a young talented Croatian leaving the county for better opportunities abroad; what makes this story so unique and motivating, I wondered. What’s the message for young people? Work hard for a future which only exists beyond your country? That scenario is so commonplace, so predictable – and has flourished without interruption since boatloads of young Croatian emigrants, housed in cramped steerage on majestic passenger steam ships, began making their way in masses across the Atlantic over 130 years ago. Croatian independence, secured in a hard-fought war 105 years later, was supposed to curb mass emigration, not accelerate it. It's worth noting that Alen Juginović was born just a year before the last war officially ended.

The doctor and I agreed to meet at Vincek at 6pm on Friday. I’d passed the dessert café on Ilica many times but had never been inside. Frankly, I could do without the extra calories. I knew that the young doctor would arrive on time, a policy which seems to be hit or miss in this country, so I entered the very bright crowded café right at 6pm. As I meandered past glass cases of cakes and tarts, a lean spry figure passed me on the left from behind. I recognized him immediately, so I quietly followed him to the corner empty table, and waited for him to turn around, so as not to surprise him.

We shook hands and laughed about our simultaneous on-time arrival. He insisted on paying for dessert and coffee, I protested but quickly capitulated, still not entirely confident in Croatian customs. Juginović is a bright, wiry and very energetic figure. We chose sumptuous chocolate desserts, both of which were packed with calories. However, the young doctor, who was comfortably draped in an Adriatic-blue sport coat, white pressed shirt and muted chinos, showed absolutely no evidence of caloric abuse.

Juginović Outlines ‘Hygiene’ of Healthy Sleep Habits

I was pleased to learn that Dr. Juginović’s area of interest is studying and treating sleep disorders, because I’ve read a little about the subject, and could ask a few informed questions. Somewhere during the onset of middle-age, I had become a finicky sleeper. Sleeping a consecutive 8 hours is no longer a given, it has become a much-valued gift. So, we launched into a discussion about “sleep hygiene” as he called it. Admittedly, I was amused by the word hygiene, especially as it relates to Croatia. Try riding a crowded Zagreb tram in July and you’ll immediately know what I’m talking about.

So the young doctor enthusiastically reviewed the necessary components for “sleep hygiene”, some of which I already knew: keep the same sleep schedule, afternoon naps are OK as long as they are shorter than 45 minutes, avoid computers and smartphones (blue light), the sleeping room should not house elements of daily awake life (work-related tools) etc. He then went on to review the stages of sleep, the mechanics of each stage and circadian rhythms. I mentioned that I had read, to my relief, that the concept of a consecutive 7 to 8-hour sleep pattern only came into existence at the turn of the 20th century. Before that, many societies thrived on segmented sleep, with an interim wake period, which was integrated into daily life. He emphasized that sleep cycles are adaptable but that humans are not nocturnal by nature.

Dr. Juginović struck me as someone who lives fully scheduled days where every minute is accounted for, so I steered our discussion toward his autobiography. It unfolds like a resume every job recruiter dreams about (undoubtedly during REM sleep): President of Student Union, founder of NeuroSplit and member of the organizing committee for ISABS conferences.

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Practical Knowledge for Students | Alen Juginović

Organizer of World Class Medical Conferences in Split

Most notably, he was instrumental in organizing two Split-based world conferences. The first, Practical Knowledge for Students, is an annual event which provides medical, dental and pharmacy students the opportunity to practice key physical functions in their chosen professions: like suturing. Suturing, I thought, don’t students practice how to suture in medical school? Apparently, not enough. As the young doctor pointed out, students only know how to perform many of these tasks in theory. I immediately wondered if this was true for US medical schools too. The conference has been a smashing success and participation has ballooned to over 400 students, who arrive in Split from all corners of the world.

The second conference, Nobel Days, brought together four Nobel Prize winners in one auditorium for panel discussions, which were free and open to the public. The panel comprised of Biochemist Richard Roberts, who received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1993; Biophysicist Joachim Frank, who received it in Chemistry in 2017; Physicist Georg Bednorz, who won the prestigious award in 1987; and Harald zur Hausen, a Virologist who received it for the discovery of the HPV virus and its association with cervical cancer. The 500-person capacity auditorium in Split was packed; with standing room only.

He also organized several fundraiser concerts with popular Croatian musicians to upgrade a home for children with special needs and finance improvements to pediatric and other medical facilities.

We briefly touched upon his observerships in Milwaukee and Houston, where he was impressed and surprised by the level of student involvement in extracurricular activities. Juginović considers participation in extracurricular activities essential for students’ well-being. It also brings balance to student life and takes the focus away from just attending classes and studying for exams. There are a lot of students who just spend their free time drinking coffee, he lamented, when they could be engaging with others in areas of personal interest and public concern. He also emphasized that he did not consider high grades to the most important criteria for success and even admitted that he didn’t have a perfect grade point average.

So, Juginović’s autobiography is full of significant and impactful achievements, which he shared with enthusiasm, energy and passion. It wasn’t at all difficult to imagine how he wowed that Serbian professor in Boston, who runs a lab at the most prestigious university in the world. And, their partnership suggests a promising overseas Serbo-Croatian collaboration, which is still a rarity in the homeland.

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Nobel Days | Alen Juginović

The Croatian Journey to America Spans Over a Century

My grandfather arrived at Ellis Island on the SS Slavonia, which had departed Rijeka on a 19-day journey to America. The trans-Atlantic journey, which he had most likely spent in steerage, was long and grueling, but the young nation was open to everyone who arrived. One hundred fifteen years later, getting into America has become much more complex. One way is to successfully and illegally traverse an increasingly fortified Southern border. Another way is to obtain a H-1B visa, and eventually a Green Card, which can be a complicated affair, and is only expedited by possessing vast financial resources, outstanding individual talent or powerful connections.

In Dr. Juginović’s case, Dr. Rogulja and Harvard will likely process a H-1B visa application which allows a US employer to temporarily hire a foreign worker in a specialty occupation. For a world renown institution like Harvard, that process will likely be streamlined and accelerated, regardless of legal route. It’s worth noting that Croatia remains among just a handful of EU countries for which the US still requires a visa for entry, even as a tourist. However, US and Croatian efforts are now finally underway to abolish that requirement within the next few years.

So, in a little over two weeks the young Croatian doctor will board a plane bound for America. He’ll arrive in Boston in a matter of hours, not weeks, where he will immediately be taken under Harvard’s wing and will undoubtedly surpass their high-performance standards. His job offer comes with a three-year renewable contract, and from there the possibilities are boundless. In the meantime, he must pack for relocation to “The Hub of the Universe”. And HRT (Croatian Radio Television) has just contacted him for a news feature, which will be filmed at St. Catherine’s Hospital in Zagreb, where he remains employed until his departure.

No Long-Term Plans to Return to Croatia Permanently

For a young man who proceeds with such deliberate intention; like organizing significant world conferences with science visionaries and planning personal tours of America’s top universities, I wondered where Dr. Juginović saw himself in the future. Did he consider America a place to expand his knowledge, absorb her best practices, learn from her shortcomings, and return to his homeland to share that vision, knowledge and optimism? Or was America a more permanent destination?

“I don’t think that far ahead, and am open to all opportunities,” he responded, and emphasized that his focus was on the moment and never extended beyond the next day or two. One could not help but sense the empty space that someone, who had been such a daily inspiration to fellow students, would leave behind. Is he coming back to visit, I wondered. He replied that he’d be back during summer break. How does summer break work for a researcher at a university, I thought aloud. Does it follow the academic calendar? He’d probably come back for a week, he answered tentatively and emphasized that his primary passion is to motivate students. “Never underestimate the power of students,” he proclaimed with conviction.

Even if Alen Juginović’s return visits to Croatia are brief and rare, I’ll safely bet that a more refined version of his story, which he shared with me over coffee and dessert, will appear as a TED Talk on YouTube. It’s simply not even a matter of if; it’s a matter of when. And sure enough, it turns out that his future Serbian mentor has already given a TED Talk. Young Croatians seeking motivation will be able to locate inspirational footage of the soon-to-be former Split resident online by a Google search. Some will be enchanted by his fulfillment of the American Dream, a concept which has long ago achieved mythical proportions. Others, perhaps, might be inspired to stay and effect change in their homeland. Dr. Juginović emphasized that his parents and three close friends have been his main source of inspiration.

Saying Goodbye and Reaching Out for Something New

He admitted that the last few weeks have been emotional. Late one night he sat on a bench ten meters from the sea with a close friend and disclosed that he was leaving for America. Without saying a word, the friend simply hugged him. “Everglow” by Coldplay was playing on the car radio on their way home and that song will always commemorate the moment, he reveals. Then he showed me a stunning image of a sunset taken high up in the hills overlooking Split and the Adriatic Sea. The soft horizontal bars of deep blue and orange were broken up by the silhouette of a young man with mussed up hair and the roof of a car. Flickering lights of Croatia’s second largest city, a city that existed long before the arrival of Croatian tribes, dotted the lower right-hand corner of the image. These were among the reflections of a young man saying goodbye.

Near the end of our conversation, we spoke briefly about his favorite songs. In addition to “Everglow”, he mentioned “Purple Rain” by Prince. We immediately agreed that it was impossible to enjoy songs with meaningless lyrics. In that context, “Purple Rain” seemed like an improbable choice, not to mention that the song was a massive worldwide hit a decade before he was born.

Prince explained the meaning of his song to an interviewer as follows: “When there’s blood in the sky – red and blue = purple… purple rain pertains to the end of the world and being with the one you love and letting your faith/god guide you through the purple rain.”

At the beginning of the song, the late musician’s lyrics appear to be directed toward an individual and allude to the end of a friendship. Then he acknowledges that times are changing and “it’s time we all reach out for something new, that means you too.” Had the young Croatian doctor experienced the end of a friendship? We hadn’t gotten that personal, but I suspect that his affinity for this song hinted at a more collective, rather than personal experience. Near the end of the legendary anthem, Prince calls out to his audience:

You say you want a leader
But you can’t seem to make up your mind

If you know what I’m singing about up here
C’mon, raise your hand

Follow our Lifestyle page and Diaspora page for more information on Croatians and their successes abroad. For updates on Dr. Juginović’s pursuits and health advice, follow his Twitter page here.

Sunday, 6 October 2019

What is Croatia Doing to Bring Back a Lost Generation of Croats?

As Novac/Marina Klepo writes on the 5th of October, 2019, with the official announcement of her candidacy, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović wanted to send out a symbolic message: That she's thinking of the Croats outside of Croatia as well.

A conference entitled "Diaspora and Homeland", will be dedicated to them in a few days time, organised by the Centre for the Study of Croatian Emigration, established "with the aim of promoting and developing closer relations between Croats in the homeland and those abroad''.

The final release of two strategies for Croatia's demographic revitalisation of emigration by two institutions, the Ministry of Demography, Family, Youth and Social Welfare, and the Central Office for Croats outside the Republic of Croatia, is also awaiting final publication.

Such great attention paid to expatriate compatriots is quite understandable given the intensity of the emigration from Croatia and the discouraging prospects of the country's demographic future. More visible results, however, will be difficult to achieve with mere symbolic gestures and lifeless strategies.

Like Croatia, many other European countries are also facing the problem of population displacement, and some of them have devised very concrete projects on how to encourage their nationals to return. Countries used to compete in terms of attracting foreign investors, today they are struggling to become attractive to their own people who have left the country.

In search of work, millions of young people from crisis-stricken countries have travelled to richer parts of the EU over the past decade, most often to the UK, Ireland and Germany. Many of them are returning home today because unemployment is no longer such a massive issue today; moreover, it has become a somewhat bigger problem to fill jobs. A very Croatian paradox indeed.

Although many of these new jobs are temporary and underpaid, the governments of Spain, Portugal and Poland believe they can offer their compatriots a good perspective again. In July this year, the Spanish government and the private organisation Volvemos, founded back in 2016 with the intention of bringing back the "lost generation" back to Spain, launched the two-year return, or more precisely "Plan de retorno" pilot program.

It contains fifty measures that make Spain an attractive place for the development of a personal and a professional life. It will be funded by the government with 24 million euros, with logistic support provided by Volvemos.

This national plan, proposed by the Ministry of Employment, Migration and Social Security, in conjunction with ten other ministries, builds on existing grassroots initiatives (Castilla la Mancha) that in many ways encourage the return of Spanish expatriates.

At a recent meeting at the Spanish Cultural Center in Berlin, organised by Volvemos, a senior state official, Agustín Torres, addressed the expatriates. One of the first questions raised by about fifty young expatriates, according to Germany's Spiegel, was "what if we decide to return within the next three weeks?''

According to Volvemos, 10,895 Spanish expatriates want to return home, 527 job offers have been announced, and so far, such a move has managed to bring back 500 Spaniards. That public action seemed to be touching for many expats.

"This is the first time anyone is genuinely interested in expatriates," said scientist Carmen Cañizares. The program is targeted not only at young people, but at different profiles of returnees, regardless of age, education level and social status.

If they want to come back, Plan de Retorno offers a number of incentives, such as streamlined procedures, consulting services, the publication of business opportunities and support for entrepreneurship. The services available to them include Skype consultations, seminars and even financial assistance. A key part of the program is the creation of a one-stop shop for information and documents that people will need in the event they decide to return, help to design their personal careers and connect with Spanish companies.

The measures also include a system of tuition incentives to continue research in Spain, as well as monthly bonuses for self-employed workers to try to encourage entrepreneurship.

The Spanish government expects some 24,000 people to benefit from the program. According to government figures, 2.5 million Spaniards live abroad today, a million more than in 2009. Expectations that many of them could return has also been encouraged by the 2018 data, when 83,728 Spaniards returned and for the first time since 2008, there were more returning to Spain than leaving it.

Neighbouring Portugal has a similar experience as Spain. A country of about ten million people saw about half a million people, or five percent of the population, leave the country during the time of the crisis. But as of 2017, the number of returnees is also higher than those leaving the country. The Portuguese Government has therefore launched a program that offers start-up financial assistance to returnees of up to 6,500 euros. Those who want to start their own business, in turn, can get an incentive loan.

Among the countries that have engaged more strongly with their emigrants in recent years is Poland, especially after the decision on Brexit in the UK, where nearly one million Poles live, but also because the authorities want vacancies to be filled by their compatriots rather than immigrants from distant countries.

Last March, the Polish Government brought in the Polskie Powroty project, aimed primarily at encouraging Polish scientists to return home and work in higher education institutions and research institutes.

The program should create optimal conditions for their return, including salaries at a normal European level, help with relocation, adaptation to new jobs and the formation of project teams. It is intended for scholars who hold Polish citizenship and a doctorate, and who have worked in research institutions abroad for at least two years. In addition, the aim is to attract Poles born in Eastern countries, and have they have been issued around 10,000 Polish documents so far.

Research shows that personal reasons, quality of life and overall social sentiment are also very important for deciding to return home. Some can no longer endure "empty Sundays" in the cold cities of Northern Europe, some say they miss "balconies full of flowers", and some want to be closer to family for health reasons, but many, in turn, do not want to return.

Nevertheless, the economic recovery in recent years has allowed a greater freedom of choice. When it comes to Croatia, the latest data shows that the intensity of emigration decreased, and 39,515 people left the country last year, compared to 47,000 just one year earlier. The number of immigrants to Croatia increased slightly and amounted to 27,000 last year.

Demographer Ivan Čipin of the Faculty of Economics says that those who have recently left find it much easier to return, and that is much easier than attracting migrants from third countries.

"Old migrants, and second and third generation people will find it difficult to come here because they're already ''rooted'' in the countries their forefathers went to. It is easiest to achieve results in the case of those who have recently left, the last five to six years,'' says Čipin.

As Čipin notes, perhaps some answers will be provided by the demographic strategy for the period 2020 to 2030, which was staffed by sixteen experts and initiated by the Ministry of Demography for Family, Youth and Social Welfare. According to information dated in May this year, they have proposed as many as 100 measures and since then it is expected that the competent ministry will submit the final document for public discussion.

When asked at what stage this document was and whether it was addressing expatriate Croats at all, the Ministry offered only a formal answer. They say the document is in the final stages of harmonisation and that the public will be "promptly informed" once the procedures are completed.

They explain that it contains measures aimed at providing support for families with children, from facilitated housing to family reunification, as well as help with the work life of working parents. Specific measures will be directed towards increasing demographic growth and also boast targeted migration trends. They acknowledge that emigration is a significant demographic issue but also an economic challenge, and point out that the strategy "contains measures that will reverse this trend".

''In order to encourage the return of Croatia's emigrants, it's certainly worth mentioning the programs and projects implemented by the Central State Office for Croats outside the Republic of Croatia,'' they say from the competent ministry.

They state that special quotas for the enrollment of students from Croatian minorities in European countries and for expatriates and their descendants in other countries have been adopted, and in addition to programs for learning Croatian, scholarships have been launched, the procedure for acquiring citizenship has been simplified... Compared to other countries, those devised by the Croatian administration, at least so far, it seems, can hardly be stimulating people to return, unlike with the Spaniards.

Economic analyst Goran Šaravanja believes there is certainly room for the return of Croatian emigrants, it is only a matter of "how skilled we will be in securing conditions for people to return".

Born in Australia as a descendant of the first generation of Croatian emigrants, he came to Croatia twenty years ago. After graduating, he started working in the financial sector in Sydney, and then, with experience and savings under his belt, he wished to see the world. A backup option was the rich, Western European nation of the UK. However, before that, he decided to try his hand in Croatia. "And it worked," as he says.

In addition to having a family in Croatia today, he thinks he was probably lucky because he could easily get a job in Croatia with his professional profile. For the past twenty years he has been chief economist at Zagrebačka banka and Ina, and today he own his own company, Imelum, which deals with macroeconomic analysis for the region of Southeast Europe.

In addition, the impetus for him to stay was the conviction that Croatia would one day be a member of the EU and NATO, which carries with it risk reduction, accelerates the development of institutions and also the political culture. However, when comparing Spain's decisions with those made by the Croats, it is hard not to notice the stark differences in perspective.

We often lose sight that back in the beginning, Croatia had to create new institutions and decide for the first time in their history about everything, unlike other countries that already had that type of infrastructure. It takes time to build an efficient and ambitious public administration. Therefore, for countries that have not had their ''own country'', such as Croatia and Slovenia, it means a lot to join NATO and the EU.

However, the impression remains that Croatia is painfully slow to learn and adopt good practices. And Šaravanja acknowledges that the key problem is precisely how Croatia generally approaches problems and how it solves them.

''When motivating people to return, we should see what others are doing and what is applicable to us, given our specificities. The reality is that in Croatia, the private sector is too small, that is, the public sector, public companies, and thus the state's influence on the economy is too great. Only the private sector is able to create more jobs in the long run without which it is difficult to expect a significant return of people,'' says Šaravanja.

In addition to providing a more prosperous economy that will offer jobs to expatriates, research has shown that Croatia is plagued by some other specifics that politicians desperately need to work on.

A survey conducted by Promocija Plus agency among Croatian expatriates last year, at the request of the Croatian Employers Association (HUP), showed that they were particularly troubled by the situation in Croatian society.

Departure is largely driven by "problems that come from general social and political circumstances", dissatisfaction with the general situation and the socio-political climate in the country. The labour market and social policies only take second place, which are otherwise most commonly thought to be the main causes of emigration, and the third group are of course individual, personal motives which may or may not have anything to do with the state of the country at all.

Make sure to follow our dedicated politics page for more on Croatia's demographic crisis.

Sunday, 21 July 2019

When Will Croatia's Emigration Stop? Experts Weigh In

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 20th of July, 2019, based on economic trends and the number of residents in other transition countries, Croatian economist Velimir Šonje estimates that less developed countries, as well as Croatia can stabilise their number of inhabitants when they reach 80 percent of EU average.

The message from Tao Zhang, the deputy director of the IMF, was that Croatia's region would grow old before it gets richer, ie, before it reaches a certain level of economic development that will provide all of its inhabitants with a decent standard.

Bleak outlooks dominate in almost all of Croatia's demographic forecasts by which the number of older people will be doubled by the middle of the century, and by the end of the century, there will be two retirees for every one working individual, Večernji list writes.

As stated, based on economic trends and the number of residents in other transition countries, Croatian economist Velimir Šonje estimates that less developed countries, as well as Croatia, can manage to stabilise their numbers of inhabitants when they reach 80 percent of EU average. - The Czech Republic, Slovenia and Slovakia, with no particular population decline, are around or above 80 percent of the EU average.

Estonia, which has recently reached that level, had experienced a decline earlier, but it eventually stopped, says Šonje. A researcher from the Vienna Institute, Isolda Mara, came to the conclusion that salary growth resulted in the slowing of certain types of migration. Another conclusion was also drawn, that external mobility from the newer EU member states had slowed down since 2015, and is likely to remain at a lower level in the future.

However, this analyst also points out the fact that it is too early to talk about stronger return migration. 2018 could prove to be a breakthrough year for Croatia, because last year, there was a decrease in emigration and growth in immigration ever since Croatia joined the European Union back in 2013. New Europe is copying Western countries more than those in Croatia realise it is, and they're filling their own labour market gaps with immigration from their less developed, poorer close neighbours.

Even though it makes up part of the group of countries that have managed to reach 80 percent of the average EU GDP, emigration is also still present in neighbouring Slovenia, where this year, according to official information, there are about 40,000 foreigners working there, mostly from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. Unlike Croatian migrants who raise their anchors and take their entire families with them abroad, Slovenians prefer daily migration and travel to work in Austria or Italy, but continue to ''make their beds'' at home in Slovenia.

''Croatia's tragedy is the fact that it could already be close to 80 percent of EU's average growth. In 2007, Croatia was at 61 percent of the EU average, Poland was at 53 percent, and today Poland is at 71 percent! In the meantime, Croatia has steadily grown two percentage points faster than the EU average, today Croatia could have been at 76 percent instead of at 63 percent,'' said Velimir Šonje, who calculated that Croatia would reach 85 percent of the EU's average development level by 2035, if it continued to grow two percentage points faster than the EU average.

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Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Croatian Emigration to Germany and Ireland Slows, Grows for Sweden

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 17th of July, 2019, according to data from Destatis, the German statistical office, 51,197 people who hold Croatian citizenship moved from Croatia to Germany in 2018. This is the first time that a drop in emigration from Croatia to Germany has been recorded, Večernji list writes.

Judging by the data from Germany and Ireland, emigration from Croatian citizens coming from Croatia has actually slowed down. The latest figures from the German and Irish statistics offices show that in the first half of this year, for the first time since Croatia's EU accession, the number of immigrants from Croatia has decreased.

According to the aforementioned German statistical office, this is the very first time that a drop in emigration from Croatia to Germany has been recorded and this has halted the trend that, according to the same data, has lasted for ten years, long before Croatian membership of the EU.

During 2017, 52,791 Croatian citizens moved to Germany, while in 2016 it was a record, when 57,155 Croatian citizens moved from Croatia to Germany. However, when it comes to this office, it is important to point out that two types of data are being published for Croats, which can cause confusion and different interpretations by media, as well as by experts.

"When we talk about Croatian citizens, we differentiate between emigration actually from Croatia and the emigration of all those who just have Croatian citizenship but are coming from other countries, especially those outside the EU. Of them, 51,197 have moved to Germany since last year, while the total number of those who just have a Croatian passport in Germany numbered 57,724 The difference of 6,527 people means that they came from a third country outside of the EU,'' the German office told Vecernji list.

However, historian and political scientist Dr. Tado Jurić of the Croatian Catholic University says it isn't true that the trend of Croatian emigration to Germany is dropping. In April 2019, when the disinformation began to spread significantly about the drop in emigration to Germany, he warned that the figures that were being put out by the media about emigration were far from real. He has claimed that this may be a deliberate misrepresentation of data, or simply a lack of statistical reading methodology.

''According to data from the Federal Migration Office (BamF), which provides final immigration data and which is always used by the German Parliament, back in 2016, there were 51,163 immigrants from Croatia, in 2017, there were 50,283, and last year, there were 51,197 according to Destatis. Destatis takes all people with Croatian citizenship into consideration, and BamF includes immigrants and returnees from Croatia and is therefore more precise,'' according to Jurić. BamFa's data for 2018 will be announced in October this year.

Jurić believes that the number of Croatian returnees will increase in the next few years.

The jump in Croatian emigration was of course most visible after the country joined the EU and adopted the four fundamental freedoms of the single market, one of which is the free movement of labour.

Back in 2008, 8,418 Croatian citizens moved to Germany, in 2013, the year Croatia joined the EU, 24,845 of them went to Germany, in 2014, 43,843 of them went to Germany, and in 2015, when the German labour market became fully open to Croatian citizens, 57,996 Croatian citizens moved there. The second destination to which Croats tend to emigrate - Ireland - recorded a fall in arrivals from Croatia for the first time in 2018.

The Irish Central Statistical Office estimates the number of immigrants according to the number of Personal Public Service Numbers (PPSN), an identification number similar to the Croatian OIB used for employment and social benefits.

In the first six months of 2019, 1,648 numbers were issued to Croatian citizens, while in the same period last year, as many as 2,119 Croats received a number. The same trend is seen in Ireland as in Germany - in 2009 only 60 PPSN numbers were issued, and a significant jump is seen upon Croatia's accession to the EU. From 483 to 2,103, the number jumped up to 2,091 in 2014, and doubled a year later to 4,342, and peaked in 2016 with 5,312 issued PPSNs.

By 2017, the number fell slightly to 4,908, and the decline continued last year when 4,346 Croatian citizens received a PPSN number, this year, a reduction of nearly a quarter has already been seen in Ireland. However, in Sweden, the number of immigrants from Croatia is climbing - there are now 1,150 Croatian citizens legally there, there were 1,084 back in 2017, and for years before that the number was always around 1,000.

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Monday, 12 November 2018

Croatian Emigration: Split Lost Almost 7,000 Residents in Six Years

A look at Croatian emigration in Split-Dalmatia County and a comparison of the number of inhabitants in 2011 and 2017.

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